History Of Alabama
History of the state of Alabama
The yellow hammer state as popularly known by Americans has a rich history of its inception; it’s involvement in civil rights movement, the great politicians from the state, and the pride of a great university. The original inhabitants were Indians also known as ‘red Indians’, and the name Alabama came from the Indian tribe of ‘Alibamu’ that was at that territory (Alabama). It is believed that in 1519 Spanish explorers arrived at mobile bay, and twenty one years later, a renowned explorer by the name Hernando De Soto visited the territory. In 1702, there was permanent European settlement in Alabama founded by French at fort Louis De La mobile. In 1763, there was a treaty of Paris which led to British control of the area. But they had to surrender the control of the region to the United States and Spain after the American Revolution. This happened as the Spanish took control of the mobile bay and they retained the west and East Florida as part of a war ending agreement (Cozzens).
In May 5th 1799, the U.S. army lieutenant John McClary took control of Fort Stephens from the Spanish and the United States flag was raised for the first time in this territory presently known as Alabama. In 1805, Indian cohesions opened in up to white settlers in the northern and western sides of Alabama known at that time as Cherokee and Choctaw. In 1813 the battle of burnt corn creek started between the Indians and the United States Army. This battle led to the massacre of a lot of Indians. By 1814, the Fort Jackson treaty settled things and the Indians ceased fire ending the war under the leadership of Indian legend William Weatherford popularly known ‘Red Eagle’. The Indians surrendered their land to General Andrew Jackson making it to be under the federal government. March 3rd 1817, The Alabama territory was recognized and created and congress passed the act to allow Mississippi territory to be divided and admitting Mississippi into the union as a state. Alabama remained just as a territory for two years then it became the 22nd state of America in 1819.
Alabama continued growing as a state as years went by playing a major role in America’s growth as it did in the early years. In 19th century, there was improvement in the state’s economy with Industrialization being the major contributor.
History in Alabama is quite rich and it cannot all be expounded in one study. To give key highlights that are the most significant in the history of Alabama, focus will be on its place in Civil Rights movement, George Wallace a notorious racist in America’s civil rights history, and the creation of the University of Alabama.
Civil rights movement in Alabama
Alabama is considered the home of civil rights movement and it has produced the best civil rights activists not only in America but respected globally for their action. These activists are attributed in playing a part to the end of segregation through their struggle. The period of 1955 to 1963 drew the world’s attention to Alabama.
One of the first noted cases of rise against segregation was in 1955. On December 1st 1955, an African-American lady by the name Rosa parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. On her way to her destination, she was told to give up her seat for a white man as it was required in those days due to her skin color. She bluntly refused and was arrested. Her arrest caused an uproar in the black community and rise of systematic response within the civil rights community in Montgomery urging for a boycott of public transportation. The boycott was led by the legendary Reverend Martin Luther King an influential reverend of Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Montgomery. The boycott was to address the issue of segregation not only in the public transport but in every aspect of the black community. The boycott continued for some time until the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the law of segregation in Montgomery was unconstitutional in November 13, 1956 (Halberstam, 36). Reverend Martin Luther King and Rosa parks were among the first few people to ride in a fully integrated bus.
Martin Luther King continued with the struggle and he devised a plan called the ‘Project C’ together with the Christian Leadership Conference to try and put a test to the system of segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The “C” was an initial meaning a united stand against confrontation by using strategies like peaceful demonstrations, boycotts, and appealing for justice. It was anticipated that the police led by commissioner Bull Connor would respond by trying to suppress the demonstrations using violent means. But they knew it would still bring attention and create public sympathy. Police responded as expected and used dogs and hoses to disperse the protestors and on the Good Friday of April 12, 1963 Martin Luther King was arrested.
During his sentence white ministers urged him to call off the demonstrations but he opted not knowing well that if he did the struggle would have lost its purpose. These civil rights activities that took place in Alabama are considered as the most significant in ending segregation in the history of America.
George Wallace is infamous for his stand against segregation. He is one of the most notable individuals in the history of Alabama who openly supported segregation and used his position as the Governor of Alabama to execute his beliefs in segregation. In 1963 a period when civil rights activism was at its peak, George Wallace was the governor of Alabama. He came into power using segregation as his selling point in an area where racism was an ordinary and accepted way of life. His most remembered campaign slogan as asserted by Simon was “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He opposed the enrolment of two black students Vivian Malone and James Hood who wanted to enroll at the University of Alabama.
The federal court had earlier banned any interference from the state government but despite this, Governor George Wallace appointed himself to be the registrar of the University so as to hinder the enrolment of the two black students by not registering them. However President Kennedy, who is popular for condoning such acts, federalized the Alabama federal guard and sent a hundred guards to escort the student to the campus. The commander in charge of these guards was General Henry Graham who viciously ordered George Wallace to move aside and let the students be registered (Simon).
In 15th May 1972, George Wallace was shot in an attempted assassination by Arthur Bremer, while on a campaign trail in Maryland soliciting votes to be nominated as a presidential candidate. He ended up being paralyzed from the waist down thus ending his ambitions for nomination. He later tried to campaign for presidency for the fourth time in 1976 but failed.
The University of Alabama has a long history on matters that affect the entire state of Alabama. The study will show the key highlights of Alabama in regard to impact on the state of Alabama. It all started in 1818 when the federal government set aside land for a seminary of learning. In 1820, the seminary was established officially and it was named The University of the State of Alabama. In 1837 it became the first university to offer engineering courses in the state of Alabama. This was at Tuscaloosa the capital of the state at that time. In 1860 it was used by the state as a military school.
The most distinguished thing about the University of Alabama was in the period of segregation and racism. In 1956, the first black student to be admitted was Autherine J. Lucy. At this time, African-Americans were not allowed to enroll in this institution Autherine only stayed for three days not because she could not cope with the education, but because her life was in danger. Majority of the white students protested because of her presence. There is also the George Wallace incident that has also been mentioned bringing the University of Alabama into the limelight.
The university is also well-known for its prowess in football which was initiated in 1892 in the institution. Football in the University of Alabama is on a professional level ranked next to clubs in the league (Brad, 3). Many students receive football scholarships thus providing career opportunities to the students not only through education.
Alabama has been at the centre stage of civil rights activities involving fight against segregation, and providing inspirational individuals who will forever be celebrated like Reverend Martin Luther King and Rosa parks. Also it is infamous for producing leaders with questionable character like George Wallace. It is also a state where battles that made America to be an independent country today were fought. The University of Alabama is a major attraction to this state with its excellent football and highly ranked education system that produces individuals in various disciplines.
Alabama . Infoplease. 2005. 18 Oct. 2010.
Brad, Jason. Alabama Is No. 1 in Preseason Poll. New York Times
Oct. 18, 2010: 3
Cozzens, Lisa. “The Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965.” African-American History. 25
May 1998. 18 Oct. 2010.
Halberstam, David. The Fifties: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Montogomery, University of Alabama press. 1998.
Simon, David.M. The Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1963 Aug. 2002. 18 Oct.
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